What to watch: Back in form, Felix faces KC
Amid tough June, Mariners' ace coming off gem vs. Giants; first-place Rays, Astros meet division rivals
Felix Hernandez had a major meltdown two starts ago. And then he reverted to form.
Seattle's ace recorded just one out and allowed eight earned runs against Houston on June 12, but then he came back and shut out the defending World Series champion Giants on Wednesday. Now, the American League leader in wins (10) gets to face the defending AL champs.
The Royals are dominating the All-Star ballot and cruising to a sturdy lead in the AL Central. Veteran Joe Blanton, who has pitched out of the bullpen for most of the year, will get his first start for Kansas City opposite Hernandez. Blanton is 5-2 with a 3.60 career ERA in Seattle.
Hernandez gave up seven earned runs in his first start this month, but prior to that, he had allowed seven earned runs combined in his previous four outings. Hernandez has a 7.20 ERA in June after a 1.82 mark in April and 2.00 in May, but he's also worked to a 6-2 record and a 2.59 ERA in eight home starts.
Here's a few other matchups and games to look forward to today:
Top of the East: TOR @ TB, 7:10 p.m. ET
The Rays are currently alone in first at the top of the turbulent AL East, but they'll have to face off against one of the league's most devastating lineups. Toronto led all AL offenses in runs scored (384), on-base percentage (.336) and slugging (.445) heading into Sunday's games.
Rookie Matt Andriese will get the ball for Tampa Bay in the series opener, and he'll be making just the fifth start of his young career. Andriese, a 25-year-old right-hander, has logged a 3.26 ERA in his first nine games in the Majors, but he's allowed three home runs in his first 30 1/3 innings.
The Blue Jays will counter with Drew Hutchison, who has a 6-1 record despite logging a 5.33 ERA in his first 14 starts. Hutchison, like Hernandez, gave up eight earned runs two starts ago and followed it up by blanking the opposition. Hutchison threw 5 2/3 scoreless innings against the Mets on Wednesday.
Front and Central: CWS @ MIN, 8:10 p.m. ET
The Twins have risen to contention in the AL Central behind a deep and unheralded pitching staff, and Tommy Milone has fit in well with his peers. Milone, who has gone 3-1 with a 3.67 ERA in his first seven starts this season, will be matched up against John Danks and the White Sox.
Milone, acquired from the A's for Sam Fuld at least year's non-waiver Trade Deadline, has been steady this year. The 28-year-old logged a 4-0 record and a 0.70 ERA in five starts for Triple-A Rochester, and he's held the opposition to three runs or fewer in five of his seven starts for the Twins.
Danks, 30 years old, has been part of every White Sox team since the 2007 season. The left-hander is 3-7 with a 5.16 ERA this season, and he hasn't had an ERA under 4.00 since a 3.72 mark in 2010.
Way Out West: HOU @ LAA, 10:05 p.m. ET
The Astros have hit the most home runs in the Major Leagues by a wide margin, and they'll hope to tee off some more against the Angels. Hector Santiago -- who has allowed 12 home runs in his first 81 1/3 innings -- will get the task of slowing down Houston's high-octane offense.
Santiago, 27 years old, has managed a 2.77 ERA in his first 14 appearances this season, but he's earned just two victories in his last 10 starts. Santiago has five no-decisions in that span.
The Astros will counter with Brett Oberholzer, and he'll have to contend with Mike Trout and Co. Oberholzer, 25 years old, is 2-1 with a 2.73 ERA in his first five starts this season. The left-hander has made just 42 appearances in the big leagues, and he's 11-19 with a career 3.72 ERA.